88 House Right-Hand-Drive Hummer H2: An H2 in Tokyo will get you the respect you deserve
Nothing beats a Hummer H2 to complement an opulent lifestyle.
The big and heavy truck is uncompromisingly indiscreet and subject to countless attacks by environmentalists the world over. If you want to get noticed, little else turns heads like a Hummer.
Its precisely the H2s in-your-face attitude that has made it a hit in Japan, with our friends from across the Pacific importing more than 2000 of these behemoths in the last two years. To find out why, we met up with Tomoki Shimaoka of 88 House, a Tokyo shop specializing in the import and tuning of all things Hummer.
Shimaoka-san also customizes domestic off-road vehicles like Toyotas Land Cruiser and the Nissan Safari, so when the Hummer craze took hold 88 House dove in headfirst, and was flooded with requests to import the truck. Eventually the company set up a second shop dealing only in Hummers.
We paid a visit to the shop to see the truck 88 House has prepared to showcase its services: the impossibly aggressive-looking, military-green H2 you see here. As Shimaoka explains, the bulk of his clients are high-profile personalities like baseball players, TV stars, rappers, and of course regular wealthy business owners, each with a need to make himself seen.
Buying into the Hummer experience is only the first step. Consider the truck a blank canvas that will be adorned with parts and gadgets galore. 88 House offers everything from chrome packages to a set of custom-made 25-inch wheels. Not crazy about the low-down look? Then a four-inch lift with enormous off-road tires, such as our demo truck sports, is the way to go.
The main reason for our trip to 88 House is because the shop is now offering a complete right-hand-drive conversion for the H2. For just more than $35,000, the H2 interior is gutted and replaced with a custom-made right-hand-drive dashboard. All detailsfrom the gear shifter, switches and minor trim items to the relocation of the pedals and steering columnare taken care of.
Fit-and-finish is just like from the factory as we compared the demo vehicle to a newly arrived H2. And yet despite 88 Houses exceptional conversion work, its customers prefer to stick to left-hand drive, an instantly recognizable sign their truck is imported. Being different on Japans roads is important.
So how does the Hummer fit on Japans roads? The short answer? Very tightly. Crowded side streets seem to shrink as you tackle them from the H2s elevated driving position.
And clearly this Hummer does what it sets out to do. People stared and leapt out of our way, and kids pointed in awe at what must have looked like something out of the movies. Oncoming traffic politely veered to the side, probably fearing the monster truck-looking H2 would drive over them. Only when we got to the open highway could we up the pace.
But upping the pace is not what an H2 is for in Tokyo. Most H2 owners here like the fact they have to struggle through small roads, as it means they can drive even slower, allowing still more people to notice them.
The H2 seems to be one of the most sought-after fashion accessories right now. Japan is indeed a unique place.
> For more, visit www.88house.net
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